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NIU announces 12th year of Forward, Together Forward Scholarship winners

DeKALB – Five Northern Illinois University students have been awarded this year’s Forward, Together Forward Scholarship to pay homage to the five NIU students lost in the 2008 Valentine’s Day shooting.

Cristina Bravo of Palatine, Arlene Elias of Woodstock, Frederick McClure of Orland Park, Kayla McTear of Chicago and Emily Staples of Aurora were chosen as the 2020 scholarship awardees. The scholarship is in its 12th year and has thus far been made possible by funds from 1,800 contributors, according to a Friday news release.

The Forward, Together Forward Scholarship honors Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace and Dan Parmenter.

Bravo grew up in a bilingual environment and wants to become an educator, the release states. She’s is pursuing a degree in Spanish Education with a minor in Latino and Latino American studies. She’s involved in the Foreign Language Residence Program and NIU’s Conversational Club, to continue her passion for dual language and culture.

Elias was raised in the foster care system, according to the release, is pursuing a degree in Rehabilitation and Disability Services with minors in psychology and counseling, and a certificate in women and gender studies. She also works with adults with disabilities through Best Buddies and is involved in the Sigma Lambda Sigma service sorority, the university honors program and the Adela de la Torre Latino Honor Society.

McClure is a percussionist pursuing a degree in music education and music performance, and creating “Music Education Agents” at NIU, a group of 10 of his peers who visit low-income neighborhoods in DeKalb and perform for children, the release states. He spent four years as a percussionist with Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, and served as percussion section leader in the NIU Philharmonic, played in NIU’s Steelband and the NIU Percussion Ensemble. He’s president of the NIU Percussion Club and a member of the John Henrick Clarke Honor Society.

McTear said she understands the loss NIU community faced in 2008 because she’s faced it herself, the release states. She lost her child to pneumonia and since has enrolled in NIU’s College of Nursing, where she’s also pursuing minors in psychology and community health. She plans to volunteer at Veterans Affairs hospitals, the release shows.

Staples is an NIU transfer student and a Northern Ambassador, welcoming prospective students to campus through tours. She’s also involved in the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority as philanthropy chair, and recently raised $3,000 for the Special Olympics, the release shows. She’s also traveled to Silicon Valley with her peers to learn more about careers in technology sales, which she hopes to pursue herself.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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